SpaceX launches four astronauts to ISS on REUSED Dragon capsule (VIDEO)

Elon Musk’s company has launched four astronauts into orbit from Florida, US aboard a reusable capsule and partially reusable rocket.

The mission, titled Crew 2, boarded a Dragon capsule at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, during dawn hours on Friday. The capsule, named Endeavour after NASA’s retired space shuttle, had already been used last year. Only new parachutes have been installed and some valves and thermal shielding have been replaced in the space vehicle.

Moreover, this time the capsule has been launched with a reused rocket, making spaceflight history. The Falcon 9 rocket had the same first stage booster that had been previously used to send a mission into orbit. Five months ago, it blasted off with Crew 1, which will now return in the Endeavour capsule later this month.

“If you have rapid and complete reusability, then that is the gateway to the heavens,” billionaire entrepreneur Musk said after the launch.

The reusable booster is designed by Musk’s commercial rocket company SpaceX to make spaceflight less expensive. Before now, it has only been deployed in cargo flights, not human ones. The previously used Falcon 9’s booster successfully flew itself back to Earth having separated from the rest of the rocket minutes after launch. It spectacularly landed on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ drone ship’s platform floating in the Atlantic.

The crew, consisting of mission commander Shane Kimbrough, pilot Megan McArthur, (both from NASA) specialist Thomas Pesquet (from the European Space Agency) and engineer Akihiko Hoshide (from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), were driven to the launchpad in Tesla Model X SUVs that had “REDUCE,” “REUSE” and “RECYCLE” written on their license plates. After a 23-hour flight, they are expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) some 400 km above Earth on Saturday morning, to spend about six months in space.

NASA astronaut McArthur is traveling in the same seat of the same capsule that her husband Bob Behnken did last year. After its return to Earth, the Endeavour capsule is expected to be again refurbished for a commercial flight scheduled for September.

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